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Mississippi: State-by-State COVID-19 Guidance

MISSISSIPPI

April 1, 2021:

On March 31, 2021, Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1550. The Order, effective from March 31 through April 30, issues new directives regarding the capacity limits of indoor venues.

  • Attendance at indoor arenas is limited to 75% of maximum seating capacity, and attendees should be encouraged to wear face coverings while inside the arena and when social distancing is not possible.
  • Attendance at all indoor K-12 extracurricular events is limited to 50% of the maximum seating capacity, and attendees should be encouraged to wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible.

March 18, 2021:

All Mississippians age 16 and older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as March 16, 2021.

March 2, 2021:

On March 2, 2021, Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1549. The Order goes into effect on March 3, 2021 and will remain in effect until March 31, 2021 unless rescinded, modified, or extended. The Order repeals EO 1535 (the Safe Recovery Order) and EO 1536 (the face covering mandate). Now, Mississippians are only required to wear a face covering when inside a school building or classroom, or when outdoors on a school campus whenever it is not possible to maintain social distancing.

Businesses and non-profit entities are encouraged to make reasonable, good-faith efforts to comply with the CDC’s and State Department of Health’s regulations and guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Implementing screening protocols of employees/volunteers for COVID-19 at the beginning of each shift;
  • Sending sick employees home;
  • Adopting measures to encourage that appropriate PPE to be worn by all employees while at work or on duty and in adherence to federal, state, and local regulations and guidelines;
  • Adopting measures to encourage social distancing between customers;
  • Frequent cleaning of high-contact surfaces; and
  • Making hand sanitizer available to all customers at points of entry and throughout the business.

In addition to the above guidelines, close contact personal care services (such as salons, barber shops, spas, and massage parlors) are encouraged to operate subject to the following limitations:

  • Every employee should be encouraged to wear a face covering while at work;
  • All employees should be encouraged to wash their hands between serving each customer;
  • Customers should be encouraged to wear a face covering while inside the facility, except when receiving a service that otherwise could not be provided while wearing a face covering;
  • The number of customers inside should be limited to ensure social distancing; and
  • Customers should be screened for illness prior to entry.

Attendance at events held in indoor arenas must be limited to 50% of seating capacity for bowl/arena seating and 75% of seating capacity for club areas and suites. Attendees should be encouraged to wear a face covering and practice social distancing.

The Order does not limit or alter the authority of any local or county authority to adopt stricter orders, rules, or regulations, including capacity limitations and face covering mandates. However, local and county authorities may not impose restrictions that prevent any Essential Business Operations (as identified in EO 1463) from operating at the level necessary to provide essential services and functions during the State of Emergency.

February 24, 2021:

On February 23, 2021, Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1547, which suspends the statutory requirement that county election commissioners attend a training seminar provided by the Office of the Secretary of State, complete a skills assessment, and file a certification of completion of the skills assessment by April 30, 2021. County election commissioners still must meet the above requirements, but they now have until July 31, 2021 to do so.

February 23, 2021:

Mississippi has expanded eligibility for those seeking COVID-19 vaccinations. As of March 1, 2021, the following Mississippians will be eligible:

  • Teachers, staff, and employees in PreK-12 or childcare settings; and
  • Public safety personnel, including law enforcement, public safety, fire services, and emergency management workers.

Adults aged 65 and older, anyone 16-64 years old with a chronic health condition, long-term care facility residents and staff, and health care personnel are still eligible to receive the vaccine.

February 10, 2021:

The Mississippi Department of Health has compiled information regarding the selected Walmart pharmacies that will begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations to the public. Appointments must be made online directly through Walmart. The state’s drive through vaccination sites remain in operation. Currently, people aged 65 and older, people aged 16-64 with a chronic health condition, healthcare workers, EMT/paramedics, and residents and staff of long-term healthcare facilities are eligible for the vaccine.

February 8, 2021:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1543 on February 3, 2021, extending the Safe Recovery Order through March 3, 2021. The Order amends seating requirements for college and university outdoor stadiums to limit seating to a maximum of 25 percent capacity outside and 75 percent capacity inside. In addition, the Order extends the mask mandate imposed on all but seven of Mississippi’s 82 counties through Executive Order 1542.

January 27, 2021:

Mississippi is currently offering the coronavirus vaccine to the following groups: healthcare workers and EMT/paramedics, persons aged 65 years or older, and persons aged 18-64 years with underlying medical conditions. Mississippians can visit this link to register for a vaccine appointment at one of the state’s drive-thru clinics if they are in the eligible groups. People in Mississippi may also contact their local healthcare providers directly about the availability of appointments through a hospital or their healthcare provider.

January 20, 2021:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1542 which went into effect on January 15, 2021. It extends the Safe Recovery Order, previously implemented, through February 3, 2021. The Order adds two counties Executive Order 1539’s mask mandate, Claiborne and Tunica, and removes Adams, Jefferson, Lawrence, Quitman, and Wilkinson Counties from the mask mandate.

The State is making progress in its coronavirus vaccine distribution plan, and Mississippians aged 65 and over and those with certain chronic health conditions are now eligible for vaccinations, as well as healthcare personnel, first responders, and long-term care facility residents and staff.

January 13, 2021:

In following the recommendations of the Department of Health and Human Services, Mississippi revised its vaccination plan. Now, persons age 65 and over, persons with certain chronic health conditions, and first responders are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. Mississippi has set up drive-thru vaccination sites, and those who are eligible can complete a form online to schedule a vaccination appointment. People may also contact their health care provider to arrange a vaccination appointment.

January 12, 2021:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1541 on January 11, 2021, which concerns unemployment benefits. It replaces and supersedes Executive Order 1510. The new Order has the following effects:

  • The one-week waiting period requirement for receiving unemployment insurance benefits is waived for all claims filed from March 8, 2020 through March 14, 2021, with the possibility of extension prior to the Order’s expiration.
  • The provision in Mississippi law which requires that all employers who elect to reimburse the trust fund in lieu of contributions may not be noncharged under any condition is amended to allow reimbursable employers to receive a noncharge if a claim was fraudulently filed for the weeks ending March 8, 2020 through March 14, 2021.

The remainder of the Order reminds Mississippi employers that they must notify the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (“MDES”) in writing within 10 days from the date they receive a refusal of an offer of suitable employment and that in order from MDES to receive emergency grants under the Social Security Act all employers must provide notification of the availability of unemployment compensation to each employee at the time of separation of employment. It continues to say that any waivers granted by Congress related to COVID-19 may be adopted and implemented by Mississippi and grants MDES the authority to seek any waivers it deems necessary in response to COVID-19.

January 6, 2021:

Mississippi is currently in Phase 1a and Phase 1b.1 of its COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan. Vaccinations for those in Phase 1.b.2 and Phase 1.b.3 are estimated to be available in January/February, and vaccinations for those in Phase 1c are estimated to be available in March.

  • Phase 1a: All healthcare personnel; long-term care facility residents
  • Phase 1b.1: Persons aged 75 and older
  • Phase 1b.2: Persons aged 65 and older; first responders (e.g., fire and police); K-12 teachers and staff; college/university teachers/staff; childcare workers; corrections officers and staff; congregate settings workers
  • Phase 1.b.3: Persons aged 16-64 years with high risk medical conditions; food and agriculture workers; U.S. Postal Service workers; manufacturing workers; grocery store workers; public transit workers
  • Phase 1c: Persons aged 16 and over in congregate settings and correctional facilities; other essential workers as defined by CISA’s guidance on Essential and Critical Infrastructure Workforce (transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health workers).

December 28, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1538 on December 22, which is already effective and will remain so indefinitely. This order continues to suspend the state law that requires meetings of shareholders to be noticed and held at a physical location in connection with any shareholder meeting that has been scheduled or must occur before June 30, 2021. Notice of such meetings can be by electronic means and must inform shareholders that the meeting will occur by electronic communication.

Governor Reeves also signed Executive Order 1539 on December 22, 2020, which is effective December 23, 2020 through January 15, 2021. The Order extends the face mask and social distancing requirements to the following counties, in addition to all other counties under the same mandate in Executive Order 1536: Benton, George, Greene, Hancock, Humphreys, Jasper, Leake, Newton, Pike, Quitman, Smith, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Walthall, Wayne, and Wilkinson.

December 10, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed two Executive Orders on December 9, 2020.

Executive Order 1535: This Order is effective beginning on December 11, 2020 and remains effective until January 15, 2021 unless rescinded or modified. It repeals Executive Order 1525 (the original Safe Recovery Order) but implements many additional restrictions:

  • Group Gatherings: Group gatherings in indoor spaces are limited to 10 people, or 50 people if outdoors where social distancing is not possible.
  • Face Coverings: Every person in the state must wear a face covering while inside a school building or classroom, or when outdoors on a school campus when social distancing of six feet is not possible.
  • Business Operations: All businesses operating in the state must make reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with the CDC’s and State Health Department’s regulations and guidelines, including implementing screening protocols for employees, sending sick employees home, limiting the number of visitors in a business to no greater than 75% of the business’s capacity, requiring PPE to be worn by all employees, adopting social distancing measures, and adopting sanitation measures.
  • Restaurants/Bars: Party sizes are limited to ten persons per table. Restaurants must update their floor plans to ensure six feet of separation between each party/group, regardless of dining inside or outside. Appropriate PPE shall be worn by all employees. Alcohol may only be served to seated customers, and may not be served past 11:00 p.m.
  • Reception Halls/Conference Centers: The number of guests in reception halls and conference centers must not be greater than 50% of the maximum capacity. However, for seated dinners capacity may increase up to 75%.
  • Auditoriums/Theaters: Auditoriums and theaters must limit customers to 50% of the maximum seating capacity, provided that six feet of social distancing between members of different households must be maintained.
  • Hospital Capacity: Healthcare facilities must reserve at least 10% of their capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Executive Order 1536: This new Order is effective from December 11, 2020 through January 15, 2021 unless rescinded or modified, and implements a face covering mandate only for the counties listed in the Order. It differs from the face covering requirement contained in Order 1535 in that this Order requires every person to wear a face covering when inside any business, school, building, or other indoor space open the public whenever it is not possible to maintain a minimum of six feet of distance.

December 1, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1533 on December 1, 2020, which will remain in effect until December 11, 2020. The Order adds the following counties to the Safe Return Order’s mask mandate and gathering limitations: Adams, Amite, Coahoma, Franklin, Jefferson, Kemper, Monroe, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Quitman, Scott, Sunflower, and Washington. In addition to a face mask mandate, counties that are included in the Safe Return Order (now totaling at least 50) must limit gatherings of groups to no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 50 people outdoors if social distancing is not possible.

November 24, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1532 on November 24, 2020, effective beginning November 25, 2020 through December 11, 2020 unless modified or rescinded. It places the following counties under the mask mandate contained in Orders 1530 and 1527: Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowndes, Neshoba, Panola, Perry, Prentiss, Stone, Tippah, Tishomingo, and Union.

November 18, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1531 on November 17, 2020. The Order, which is effective November 18, 2020 through December 11, 2020 amends the mask mandate contained in Executive Order 1527 to include Hinds, Itawamba, Madison, Montgomery, Pontotoc, Tate, and Winston Counties.

November 12, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1530, which went into effect on November 11, 2020 and will remain in effect until December 11, 2020. The Order extends the statewide Safe Recovery Order, originally instituted in Executive Order 1525. It also implements a face mask requirement for the following counties: Benton, Carroll, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Harrison, Humphreys, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leflore, Lee, Marshall, Rankin, and Yalobusha.

October 27, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1528 on October 27, 2020. It amends Executive Order 1527 by bringing seven new counties under a face mask mandate (Benton, Carroll, Harrison, Jones, Leake, Madison, and Marshall), and will be in effect October 28, 2020 through November 11, 2020 unless otherwise modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded.

October 26, 2020:

Governor Reeves announced additional measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 on October 26, 2020. The new executive order has not been officially published by the Governor, but during the announcement he noted that the order would impose face mask requirements for seven additional counties in the state and would also require hospitals to keep 10% of their capacity reserved for COVID-19 patients.

October 21, 2020:

Executive Order 1527 went into effect on October 21, 2020 and will remain effective until November 11, 2020 unless it is modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded. This Order mandates face coverings in nine Mississippi counties (Chickasaw, Claiborne, DeSoto, Forrest, Itawamba, Jackson, Lamar, Lee, and Neshoba), and orders hospitals to reserve at least 10% of their capacities for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

October 19, 2020:

Governor Reeves announced a new Executive Order on October 19, 2020. Executive Order 1527 will be effective beginning October 21, 2020 through November 11, 2020.

  • The Order amends Executive Order 1525 to require hospitals to reserve at least 10% of their capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
  • The Order also re-implements a face mask requirement for Chickasaw, Claiborne, DeSoto, Forrest, Itawamba, Jackson, Lamar, Lee, and Neshoba Counties.
  • Finally, the Order limits group gatherings where social distancing is not possible to 10 people maximum if inside and 50 people maximum if outside.

September 30, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1525, which repeals the Safe Return Order and all amendments thereto, and is effective beginning on September 30, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. through November 11, 2020. The new order does not extend the statewide face mask requirement, but it still requires people to wear masks in schools or outdoor at a school campus where six feet of distancing is not possible, with some exceptions. More specifics include:

  • Social gatherings where social distancing is not possible must be limited to groups of no more than 25 people inside or 100 people outside.
  • Businesses shall:
    • Implement screening protocols of employees at the beginning of shifts;
    • Send sick employees home and encourage sick employees to remain at home;
    • Limit customers to 75% of the business’ capacity;
    • Require that appropriate PPE be worn by all employees while at work;
    • Adopt measure to ensure social distancing for customers;
    • Adopt and enforce handwashing measures;
    • Frequently clean high-contact surfaces;
    • Make hand sanitizer available to all customers at points of entry and throughout the business; and
    • Post prominent signage regarding social distancing and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Restaurants and bars must:
    • Ensure six feet between tables;
    • Limit party sizes to ten per table;
    • Screen customers at entry;
    • Serve alcohol only when customers are seated;
    • Serve alcohol not later than 11:00 p.m.; and
    • Continue to prohibit self-service buffets and food stations.
  • Reception halls and conference centers may operate with the following limitations:
    • Limit number of guests to 50% of capacity; and
    • For seating dinners, limit number of guests to 75% of capacity.
  • Auditoriums and movie theaters must limit ticket sales to 50% of capacity.
  • Close contact and personal care services may operate but customers and employees must wear face coverings at all times.
  • Outdoor sports complexes and multi-field complexes may continue to host practices and games subject to the following:
    • Six feet of social distancing is required;
    • Concession stands may open with social distancing, face mask wearing while on duty, and screening for COVID at the beginning of each shift;
    • Each facility, event, league, or tournament must have a Safety Officer to ensure social distancing requirements.
  • Outdoor an indoor arenas must remain at 25% of capacity.
  • Attendance at K-12 organized extracurricular events are permitted subject to the following:
    • Outdoor attendance is limited to 50% of capacity;
    • Indoor attendance is limited to 25% of capacity;
    • Face coverings must be worn upon entry, exit, and in transit by all six years or older;
    • Six feet of social distancing is required;
    • Concession stands may open if the follow masking and social distancing requirements; and
    • All events must have a dedicated Safety Officer.
  • College and university outdoor stadiums may hold events subject to the following:
    • Face coverings must be worn upon entry, exit, and in transit by all six years or older;
    • Six feet of social distancing is required;
    • Concession stands may open if the follow masking and social distancing requirements;
    • Hand sanitizing or handwashing stations must be available at all entrances;
    • Transactions should be contactless;
    • Number of players on the sideline shall be minimized; and
    • The college must have a dedicated Safety Officer.

September 14, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1522, which extends the Safe Return Order through September 30, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. The new order also includes the following amendments to the Safe Return Order:

  • Retail businesses may permit customers in the store up to 75% of the maximum capacity.
  • Group gatherings where six feet of social distancing is not possible must be limited to 10 people (if indoors) and 50 people (if outdoors). The limitation does not apply to religious entities, voting precincts, and students in classrooms.
  • Group gatherings where social distancing is possible must be limited to 20 people (if indoors) and 100 people (if outdoors). The limitation does not apply to religious entities, voting precincts, and students in classrooms.
  • Restaurants and bars may increase the number of customers inside up to 75% of the maximum capacity. Buffets and self-service stations remain prohibited.
  • Gyms may remain open 24 hours a day, but the number of customers inside the gym is limited to 75% of the maximum capacity.
  • Reception halls and conference centers may operate at 25% maximum capacity with strict social distancing. For seated dinners, specifically, such centers may operate at 75% maximum capacity so long as social distancing is ensured. These restrictions apply to events and receptions held outside, as well.

August 31, 2020:

Governor Reeves extended the State’s Safe Return Order, created by Executive Order 1492, for another two weeks. The most recent amendments to the Safe Return Order created the state’s mask mandate (Executive Order 1516), and provided requirements and guidance regarding K-12 organized extracurricular events (Executive Order 1518) and college and university outdoor stadiums (Executive Order 1519). The text of the Executive Order has not been published, but it is expected to terminate on September 14, 2020 at 8 a.m., unless otherwise extended.

August 24, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1519 on August 20, 2020, which governs attendance at events held at college and university outdoor stadiums, and is in effect until August 31, 2020. Attendance to such events is permitted, subject to the following limitations:

  • Bowl seating is limited to 25% capacity;
  • Indoor club area seating is limited to 50% capacity;
  • Activities outside stadiums (e.g., tailgates, picnics, fan areas) are prohibited;
  • Face coverings must be worn by all attendees when “in transit” and it is not possible to maintain six feet of separation from others not in the same household;
  • Social distancing is encouraged at the stadiums;
  • Signs describing symptoms of COVID-19 and social distancing should be posted around the stadium, all points of entry, and at concessions and restrooms;
  • Attendees may not congregate at stadium gates or restrooms;
  • Hand sanitizing or washing stations must be available at all entry gates, stadium concourses, and throughout the stadium;
  • Transactions should be contactless as much as possible;
  • Elevator capacity is limited to five people;
  • Sideline regulations will be enforced to only permit those who are essential for game play to be on the field;
  • Colleges and universities must designate a Safety Officer with staff to ensure that the Executive Order is observed and enforced.

August 17, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1518 which is in effect until August 31, 2020. It extends the Safe Return Order instituted in Executive Order 1492 and mandates the following guidelines for K-12 extracurricular activities:

  • Attendance should be limited to two attendees per student, excluding coaches, staff, etc.
  • Masks are required at all times during indoor events.
  • Masks are required at outdoor events when in transit to or from seats, in restrooms, in concession sales areas, and in all places where social distancing is not possible.
  • Masks are required for all time for all employees, staff, and volunteers.
  • Prominent signage requiring masks should be posted at all points of entry.
  • Attendees should attempt to social distance at all times.
  • For concessions:
    • all operating staff shall be provided with a mask;
    • all customers should social distance;
    • all customers should not be permitted to congregate in the area of the concession stand;
    • all employees and volunteers shall be screened for COVID before beginning their shifts.
  • All events should have a designed Safety Officer enforcing this Executive Order.

August 5, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1516 which went into effect on August 5, 2020 until August 17, 2020. The order issues a statewide mask mandate:

  • Every person must wear a mask inside any building and outside when social distancing is not possible.
  • Exceptions include:
    • those with medical conditions
    • those who are hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible
    • those who are eating or drinking
    • those who undergoing security surveillance or screening, but only for the time necessary for such surveillance or screening
    • those swimming or exercising, including school athletic practices and weight training
    • those giving a speech, presentation, or performance for an audience or broadcast
    • those engaged in religious worship
    • those under the age of six
    • settings where it is impractical to wear masks, including but not limited to rendering goods or services like dental services

Governor Reeves additionally issued Executive Order 1517 which delays the start of school for grades seven through twelve until Monday, August 17, 2020 for the following counties: Bolivar, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hinds, Panola, Sunflower, and Washington. These counties are believed to be at higher risk for community transmission. This time period is meant to allow students to social distance and report COVID symptoms before the start of school. The order also reiterates the same mask requirements set out in Executive Order 1516.

August 4, 2020:

Governor Reeves announced on August 4, 2020 that he will be issuing two new Executive Orders. While the text of the Orders is not yet available, Governor Reeves outlined what will be included:

  • ​The wearing of masks will be mandatory in retail settings statewide.
  • All teachers and students will be required to wear masks while conducting in-person school unless they obtain a medical exemption.
  • In-person school for grades 7-12 in Bolivar, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hinds, Panola, Sunflower, and Washington counties will be delayed.
  • School return plans will be left up to the individual school districts.

August 3, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1514 which extends the statewide Safe Return effective August 3, 2020 until August 17, 2020. Governor Reeves also issued Executive Order 1515 which is effective August 3, 2020 until August 17, 2020 and mandates:

  • Social distancing and mask requirements mandated by Executive Order 1509 are extended to Carroll, Coahoma, Jones, Lee, Lefore, Lowndes, Noxubee, and Pontotoc Counties.
  • Social distancing and mask requirements are extended to August 17, 2020.

July 27, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued three executive orders on Friday, July 24, 2020.

First, Executive Order 1510 updates unemployment guidelines and is effective immediately. The order mandates:

  • The one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits is waived for all claims filed from March 8, 2020 to December 26, 2020. This is subject to change.
  • The work search requirements for unemployment insurance benefits are suspended, and the only conditions that must be met are filing weekly certifications with MDES.
  • The able to, available to, and actively seeking work requirements for unemployment insurance benefits will be reasonably interpreted for claims filed from March 8, 2020 until September 26, 2020 in cases of individuals unable to search for work due to illness, quarantine, or movement restriction.
  • The Forty Dollar ($40) earning allowance will be increased to Two Hundred Dollars ($200) from May 3, 2020 until September 26, 2020.
  • Employers must notify MDES in writing within ten (10) days from the date they receive a refusal of an offer of suitable employment. The notice must contain the date and details of the refusal.
  • Employers must notify employees at the time of separation of employment of the availability of unemployment compensation.
  • Eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits for claims filed from March 8, 2020 until September 26, 2020 will be determined based on separation from the most recent employer. If a claim is filed during that time, eligibility will not be affected for those currently off work due to COVID by prior job separations.
  • Any waivers granted by Congress related to COVID may be adopted and implemented.

Second, Executive Order 1511 amends social distancing guidelines, effective immediately until Monday, August 3, 2020:

  • All indoor gatherings must be limited to a maximum of ten (10) people practicing social distancing. This does not apply to religious entities, students in classrooms, or gatherings in facilities governed by other capacity limitations.
  • All outdoor gathers must be limited to a maximum of twenty (20) people practicing social distancing. This does not apply to religious entities or gatherings governed by other capacity limitations.
  • Bars must only sell alcohol to seated patrons and must limit customers to a 50% maximum capacity and ensure social distancing between parties.
  • Restaurants and bars can no longer sell alcohol between the hours of 11:00 pm and 7:00 a.m. Third, Executive Order 1512 extends the Safe Return guidelines to August 3, 2020, as well as extending social distancing guidelines to Calhoun, Holmes, Lamar, Montgomery, Winston, and Yalobusha counties. This order went into effect on Saturday, July 25, 2020 and remains in effect until August 3, 2020.

July 22, 2020:

Governor Reeves and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) announced the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Program, which allocates $70,000,000 to reimburse counties and municipalities for COVID expenses and is intended to supplement FEMA's public assistance program. The allocation of relief funds will be based on the 2010 US Census. The application for relief funds will be open August 3 - October 15. Application information will be available starting July 31. Reimbursements begin August 15 and must be obligated by November 30 or the money will be returned to the governor. Counties and municipalities can currently apply for public assistance through FEMA's Grants Portal.

July 20, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1508 on July 19, 2020, which extends the Safe Return Order until August 3, 2020 and includes new rules for elective medical procedures. The Safe Return Order was instituted in EO 1492 and amended in 1496, 1500, and 1505.

Governor Reeves also signed Executive Order 1509, which mandates face coverings in 10 additional counties: Bolivar, Covington, Forrest, Humphreys, Panola, Sharkey, Simpson, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Walthall. The order, which went into effect on July 20, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. and will remain in effect until August 3, 2020, requires:

  • Face coverings in all businesses for both customers and employees;
  • Businesses to screen employees at the beginning of their shifts;
  • Businesses to provide hand sanitizer to employees and customers at all points of entry and exit;
  • Businesses to sanitize all carts and baskets;
  • Social gatherings to be limited to a maximum of 10 people if held indoors, and 20 people if indoors;
  • Individuals to maintain six feet of separation while attending public events; and
  • Face coverings when attending indoor or outdoor public events.

July 13, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order No. 1507, which mandates the use of face coverings in the following 13 Mississippi counties: Claiborne, Desoto, Grenada, Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Quitman, Rankin, Sunflower, Washington, and Wayne. The order is effective from 8 a.m. on July 13, 2020 until 8 a.m. on July 20, 2020 unless it is rescinded or amended. The order requires:

  • Face coverings in all businesses by both customers and employees;
  • Businesses to screen employees at the beginning of their shifts;
  • Businesses to provide hand sanitizer to employees and to customers at all points of entrance and exit;
  • Businesses to sanitize all carts and baskets touched by customers after the customers leave;
  • Social gatherings to be limited to a maximum of 10 people if held indoors and 20 people if held outdoors;
  • Individuals to maintain 6 feet of separation while attending public events; and
  • Face coverings indoors and outdoors when attending public events.

July 9, 2020:

Governor Reeves announced he expects to issue county-specific orders soon, with mandated masks and social distancing.

July 6, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order No. 1505. It extends Mississippi’s Safe Return Order, Executive Order No. 1492, until July 20, 2020.

Governor Reeves also announced that the state’s reopening efforts have been paused, which is reflected by the extension of Executive Order No. 1492.

June 30, 2020:

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York added Mississippi to New York’s travel advisory list; this requires anyone traveling from Mississippi to New York to quarantine for fourteen days.

June 29, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed three executive orders on June 26, 2020:

  • Executive Order No. 1502 waives the one-week waiting requirement for all claims for Unemployment Insurance benefits between March 8, 2020 until December 26, 2020. The Order also waives the work search requirements to receive benefits for claims made between March 8, 2020 and July 25, 2020, and it suspends the statutory due date for employers to pay First Quarter 2020 contributions to the unemployment fund and the statutory penalty for late payment until July 31, 2020.
  • Executive Order No. 1500 allows swimming pools to open to the public and requires workers in concession stands at sports complexes and stadiums to wear masks while working and maintain appropriate social distancing measures.
  • Executive Order No. 1499 announced that all interim or hold-over appointees currently serving as directors, commissioners, or members of state regulatory agencies, commissions, or boards shall have their terms extended until the end of the 2021 legislative session (Sine Die).

June 16, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order No. 1497, which extends immunity from civil liability that was first granted to health care professionals and facilities in treating COVID-19 patients in Executive Order No. 1471, and later extended in Executive Order No. 1485 and 1494. This most recent extension of immunity for health care professionals and facilities is effective through July 1, 2020 unless modified, amended, or rescinded.

June 15, 2020:

Governor Reeves announced the creation of the Back to Business Mississippi program, which is a grant program for small businesses in Mississippi. Qualifying businesses with 50 or fewer employees could receive up to $25,000 depending on their pandemic-related expenses. Eligible expenses include mortgage interest, rent, payroll, utilities, and other pandemic-related expenses.

June 11, 2020:

Governor Reeves enacted Executive Order 1496, which extends the Safe Return Order to June 29, 2020. Under EO 1496, bars and restaurants no longer have a 10:00 p.m. curfew, fitness centers/gyms may increase capacity to 50%, reception halls and conference centers are permitted to remain open under limitations, and outdoor arenas are permitted to remain open at 25% capacity as long as good faith measures to prevent COVID-19 are adopted, while concession stands must remain closed.

Executive Order 1495 was also enacted on June 11, 2020. It rescinds provisions from prior Executive Orders which authorized the board of supervisors of any county, the governing authority of any municipality, and any local school board to grant certain employees administrative leave with pay to prevent the risk of transmission of COVID-19. All leave granted to employees after the normal resumption of business operations on or before July 1, 2020 shall be in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations.

June 1, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed Executive Order 1492, referred to as the Safe Return Order. It is effective June 1 through June 15. The new Order provides guidelines and limitations on how the State will begin to “reopen the economy.” Businesses are encouraged to continue utilizing telework or work from home procedures, and should continue following CDC and Mississippi State Health Department’s guidance related to COVID-19.

The Order provides guidance regarding the following:

  • Group gatherings
  • Travel
  • Business operations
  • Healthcare activities
  • Outdoor recreational activities
  • Indoor recreational activities, places of amusement
  • Reception halls and conference centers
  • Schools

Executive Order 1494 extends Executive Order 1471, which provides liability protections to healthcare professionals and healthcare facilitates, until June 15.

May 28, 2020:

Governor Reeves announced a new “Safe Return” Order in Executive Order 1492. The Order goes into effect on June 1, 2020. It urges high risk and elderly individuals to remain “safer at home.” The order directs that for gatherings where social distancing cannot be assured, indoor activities must not consist of more than 20 people, and outdoor activities no more than 50.

All businesses and non-profits are allowed to open, following CDC and Mississippi State Department of Health guidance, though they are encouraged to continue allowing employees to work from home or telework. Retail businesses should continue limiting customers in their stores to 50% capacity and make hand sanitizer available upon entry. Restaurants and bars may remain open but must continue following previous guidance.

May 26, 2020:

Governor Reeves extended the state’s Safer at Home Order in Executive Order 1488. The Order now extends restrictions and limitations until June 1, 2020 unless otherwise amended.

May 20, 2020:

Governor Reeves released new guidelines that churches should follow as they resume in-person worship. Churches in the state were never ordered to close, but were encouraged to halt in-person worship during the health emergency.

May 19, 2020:

Mississippi’s “Safer at Home” order expires for a majority of the state on May 25, 2020. Governor Reeves has not made any announcements regarding measures after May 25.

May 18, 2020:

Governor Reeves signed two executive orders, EO 1485 and EO 1486. EO 1485 extends the duration of EO 1471 to May 30, 2020. EO 1471 grants immunity from suit for civil liability to healthcare professionals and facilities that provide care related to COVID-19.

EO 1486 permits restaurants that don’t serve alcohol to offer in-house dining 24 hours a day, while restaurants that serve alcohol must close in-house dining no later than 10:00 p.m. The new order also permits tattoo parlors to reopen, subject to sanitation, screening, and PPE requirements.

May 15, 2020:

Governor Reeves enacted Executive Order 1484, on May 14, 2020. It amends EO 1458 and EO 1460 to direct state agencies, boards, commissions, counties, municipalities, public school districts, and other state and local entities to begin the process of returning employees whose duties were deemed non-essential back to work, subject to the state’s and CDC’s regulations and guidelines.

EO 1484 also permits pools to open between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., subject to limitations by local authorities. Non-emergent and elective health procedures may resume.

Finally, the provision in EO 1477, which suspended evictions, will end on June 1, 2020. The expiration of that provision will not affect the moratorium on residential foreclosures for borrowers with federally backed mortgage loans pursuant to Section 4024 of the CARES Act.

May 12, 2020:

Executive Order 1481 was signed by Governor Reeves on May 11, 2020. It extends unemployment benefits provided to help workers and families in the state. Among other relief, this Order waives the one-week waiting period required to receive unemployment benefits for claims filed form March 8, 2020 to December 26, 2020. The Order also increases the $40 earning allowance to $200 from May 3, 2020 until June 27, 2020.

For employers, any charges related to COVID-19 and associated charges to rated and reimbursable employers’ accounts are waived from March 8, 2020 until June 27, 2020. Interest will not accrue during that period. First Quarter 2020 pay date imposed for contributions for rated and reimbursable employers is moved to July 31, 2020, and penalties for late reporting and contribution payments from March 8, 2020 to July 31, 2020 are suspended.

May 11, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1480, which amends EO 1477 to allow salons, barber shops, and other personal care and personal grooming facilities to open subject to restrictions and limitations, including:

  • Prior to opening, salons must deep clean, disinfect, and sanitize the entire salon
  • Daily screening of all employees
  • Required employee reporting of any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Required employee training regarding minimizing the spread of COVID-19
  • Thorough cleaning of breakrooms and social distancing
  • Mandatory face coverings for employees
  • Mandatory face coverings for patrons except when receiving a service that cannot be provided while wearing a face covering
  • Mandatory gloves for employees
  • Clean capes for each patron
  • Waiting areas must remain closed
  • One customer to one employee ratio
  • High-touch areas sanitized at least every two hours

May 5, 2020:

Executive Order No. 1478, issued on May 4, 2020, reiterated that the Safer at Home protocols would remain in effect until May 11, 2020. However, the new Order noted some exceptions:

  • As of 8 a.m. on May 7, 2020, restaurants and bars will be permitted to resume operations, subject to requirements and limitations such as: deep cleaning and sanitation before the restaurants and bars may open, sending home sick employees, screening employees, appropriate PPE worn at all times by employees, employers should train employees on minimizing the spread of COVID-19, staggered workstations, capacity limited to 50%, six feet of separation between tables, screening customers, sanitizing high contact surfaces every two hours, and a requirement that each establishment close by 10 p.m.
  • After 8 a.m. on May 7, 2020, parks will be permitted to open subject to limitations. State parks may open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. for outdoor activities, and individuals should adhere to six feet of separation, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 20 people. Municipal parks may open between 9 a.m.-7 p.m. with the same restrictions on gatherings. Outdoor recreational activities, including swimming pools, may open between 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. with the same restrictions on gatherings.

April 27, 2020:

Mississippi’s Stay At Home Order expired on April 27, 2020. Governor Reeves issued a Safer at Home Order, effective April 27, 2020 through May 11, 2020. Mississippians are encouraged to stay at home when not engaged in essential activities or essential travel. Gatherings of more than 10 people are discouraged. The Order suspends evictions.

Business operations may remain open or re-open subject to some limitations: businesses are encouraged to utilize work from home procedures; they shall take all reasonable measures to ensure compliance with CDC guidelines, including social distancing, sending sick employees home and encouraging sick employees to stay home; separating and sending home employees who appear to have respiratory illness symptoms; adopting and enforcing regular and proper hand-washing hygiene protocols; and daily screening of employees and volunteers for COVID-19 symptoms before beginning the shift.

Retail businesses should limit the number of customers in their store to no greater than 50% of store capacity and disinfect high-contact surfaces. Common areas where employees or customers frequently congregate should be closed or strict social distancing protocols should be followed. Restaurants and bars will remain open for drive-thru or carry-out only. Fitness gyms, dance studios, tattoo parlors, spas, salons, barber shops and other personal care facilities are to remain closed but may continue retail sales through drive-thru or delivery services. Finally, all state courts are ordered to be open.

April 23, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order No. 1476, which closed public schools in the state for the remainder of the academic year.

April 22, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order No. 1474, which delays the expiration to August 3, 2020 of all valid driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, intermediate licenses, firearm permits, security guard permits, and ID cards which were set to expire between March 14, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Executive Order No. 1475 extends the date on which the Mississippi Public Service Commission must submit to the Governor the names of candidates for the position of the executive director of the public utility staff to June 1, 2020.

April 17, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order No. 1473, which extends the Shelter in Place Order implemented in Executive Order No. 1466 until April 27, 2020. The new Order also permits retail sales by non-essential businesses via drive-thru, curbside, or delivery services so long as the non-essential businesses comply with social distancing requirements and adhere to CDC and Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines. The new Order also permits beaches, state park lakes, state lakes, and reservoirs to re-open on a limited basis, as well as recreational boating, and fishing under limitations imposed by EO 1466.

April 9, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order No. 1467, which allows notaries to perform notarization remotely if: (1) the principal and the notary can communicate simultaneously through sight and sound; (2) the notary reasonably identifies the principal; (3) the notary either directly or through an agent creates an audio and visual recording of the performance of the notarization and retains such recording; and (4) if the principal is not physically in the state, the record relates to a matter before a court, governmental entity, public official, or other entity subject to the jurisdiction of the state or involves property located within the state.

The notary may charge an additional fee of $25 for notarial acts performed under this Order. The Order remains in effect for the duration of the State of Emergency and for 14 days thereafter.

April 2, 2020:

Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1466, implementing Shelter-In-Place state-wide and a closure of non-essential businesses and operations. The Order is effective April 3, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. until April 20, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.

Executive Order 1463 lists the following as “Essential Business or Operation”: essential governmental functions; essential healthcare operations; essential infrastructure; manufacturing; agriculture and farms; essential retail, including supermarkets, food and beverage stores, convenience stores, hardware and building materials, gas stations and restaurants; essential services, including trash collection, mailing services, automotive sales and repair, and laundry service; media services; education providers for the purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or other essential functions; financial services; professional services; providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations; construction services; services necessary to maintain safety, sanitation and essential operations of residence and essential businesses; Defense Industrial Base; vendors that provide essential services or products needed to ensure the continuing operation of Essential Business or Operation; religious entities; categories of workers identified by the CISA Memorandum; and any other category that an agency of the State of Mississippi deems essential.

In addition, evictions within the state are suspended while the Order remains in effect.

(Lauderdale County): Governor Reeves issued a Shelter-In-Place Order only for Lauderdale County, effective March 31, 2020 at 10:00 p.m. until April 14, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. The Order suspends evictions, requires all non-essential business and operations to cease except for performing Minimum Operations, and limits non-essential travel. Minimum Operations is defined as activities necessary for the business or operation to maintain the condition of the facilities, premises and equipment, value of business inventory, payroll, employee benefits, security, and to facilitate employees of the business or operation to work remotely.

Essential businesses are permitted to remain open and are identified in Executive Order 1463. Gyms, dance studios, clubs, tattoo parlors, spas, salons, barber shops, and other similar facilities are expressly not included as essential businesses.

March 25, 2020:

Governor Tate Reeves signed a new Executive Order which sets new boundaries for the state to slow the spread of COVID-19.  The Executive Order is set to terminate on April 17, 2020.

The Order instructs Mississippians to avoid non-essential gatherings of 10 people or more.  Excepted from this order are what are defined as “normal operations” at airports, medical and healthcare facilities, retail shopping (including both grocery shopping and department stores), offices, factories, and other manufacturing facilities.

Dine-in services at restaurants and bars are prohibited (unless the facility is able to reduce capacity to allow no more than 10 people to be gathered in a single space).  However, dive-thru, carryout, and delivery is not only allowed but “highly encouraged.”

Mississippians are encouraged to avoid hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities, and businesses in the state are to allow “every employee possible” to work from home.

The income tax filing deadline for Mississippi has been moved from April 15 to May 15. Mississippi public schools are closed until at least April 17, although some have started online classes.

Per the Order, “essential business or operation” include essential government (such as first responders, military, department of corrections employees, and child welfare providers,) essential health care operators, essential infrastructure (such as utilities, mass transit, rideshare providers, and hotel services); manufacturers, agricultural providers, essential retail (which includes supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, and gas stations); essential services (such as trash collection,  mail and shipping services, distribution and fulfillment centers, and laundromats); media providers; educators, banks, professional service providers (including accountants, attorneys, and insurers), providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations, and workers involved in construction.

 March 22, 2020:

(Oxford): The Mayor and Board of Aldermen ordered on March 22, 2020 that all non-essential businesses and business functions shall close to the public, including entertainment venues, salons and barbershops, spas, gyms, convention centers, shopping centers, and retail stores, among others. Essential businesses listed track what is included the Governor’s Executive Order. The Oxford Order remains in effect indefinitely.

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